When these were ready to eat, I sat munching and mulling over why I was reminded of something....something from years ago. And then it came to me: The Franklin Cider Mill in Michigan. Nothing better than fresh cider and donuts. And what donuts they made there!
The Mill was completed in 1837, the same year in which Michigan gained its statehood. It hasn't changed much since the photo above, which going by the cars I'd say was in the 60's.
But back then, I never gave much thought to why these donuts were so much better than others we tried. Now I've figured out the difference. Nutmeg. Oh yes, these biscuits definitely have a delightful caramel apple taste, but that bit of nutmeg in the sugar on top...that's what gave them that extra oomph, reminding me of the cider mill's donuts.
Really, these were quite spectacular biscuits. They didn't rise as high as most biscuits, probably because of the weight of the apples, but who cares? Ambrosia. Fall. Cider mill memories. Homemade applesauce. A chill in the air. Homecoming. Red and gold maple leaves. All the things I remember from years ago, wrapped up in one little biscuit.
Clever girl, that Mandy from Lady and Pups.
Caramel Apple Pie Biscuits
From Lady and Pups
Makes: 7 small biscuits
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup apple juice
1 1/2 cups of small-diced baking apple (about 2 small apples, I used Braeburn)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspooon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup apple juice (or apple cider)
1/4 cup heavy cream
For the dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
5 1/2 tablespoons (80 grams) unsalted butter, very cold and diced
2 tablepsoons melted butter for brushing
1/4 cup granulated sugar + 1/8 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg for sprinkling
For the apple/wet ingredient:
In a sauce pot, bring 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of apple juice to a boil over medium heat. Swirl occasionally and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and the sugar becomes a rich, dark amber color. This will take a few minutes. Then add the small-diced apples and continue to cook over medium heat. The caramel will harden in contact of the cold apples, so stir with a spoon until all the caramel is melted again. Cook until the liquid/juice from the apple has mostly evaporated, and the sauce slightly thickens again, approx 7 ~ 10 min. You should have what looks like about 1/4 cup of liquid in the pot, and the apples should be almost translucent, like candied.
Stir in the sea salt, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, and freshly grated nutmeg. Then add another 1/4 cup of apple juice and heavy cream. Mix evenly then chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge until cold. This last is an important step. Don't proceed if the apple mixture is not cold.
For the biscuit:
Preheat the oven to 425ºF
Whisk all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl (or you can do it in the food-processor). Add the diced and cold unsalted butter, then with a pastry-cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the largest bit is about the size of a small pea (or pulse the food-processor until this happens, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl). Add the chilled caramel apple/wet ingredient, then with a spatula, fold the mixture together until a wet dough forms. The dough should be wet and sticky. (Mine was not wet and sticky, but held together perfectly so I didn't add cream.) If yours is too dry and won't hold together, add another tablespoon of heavy cream.
Transfer to a floured surface and pat into inch and a half (or however thick you make your regular biscuits) thickness. Cut the biscuits out with a small cutter, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gather the scraps and cut again. You should have about 6 ~ 8 biscuits. Brush the top with heavy cream then baking in the oven until golden browned and puffed, approx 15 min.
Allow to cool for 20 ~ 30 min on a cooling rack. Brush the tops with melted butter then gently press against the nutmeg-sugar until it sticks. If you want to slice it open for ice-cream sandwich, use a serrated knife because these are quite delicate.